Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF)

The American Library in Paris is proud to be the organizer of the Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF).  YAFF is a creative writing initiative that aims to strengthen community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The Library believes that creative writing plays an important role in a child’s literacy development. Creative writing is fun and a great tool to help broaden a child’s imagination and foster a life-long love of reading and writing.

YAFF is free of charge and open to all students ages 5-18 in the greater Paris area who write in English. The Young Authors Fiction Festival originated as The Red Wheelbarrow Writing Contest, which began in 2001 with l’Ecole Massillon and a handful of Paris-based members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), who acted as judges. YAFF is now a highlight of the Library’s programming and the only creative writing initiative for children in Paris, with 500 entries (and growing each year!) submitted from more than 25 schools and writing programs.  The YAFF team consists of Library staff and volunteers and includes the involvement of more than 60 judges from the Library’s community and beyond.

We encourage parents, teachers, educators, and schools to help nurture and develop a passion and practice for creative writing in children. The Library offers many resources for creative writing, including books, a teen writing  club, creative games, and writing workshops offered many times throughout the year. Together, and with YAFF, the Library hopes to raise and nurture the next generation of writers and authors!

The 2018 Young Authors Fiction Festival

The YAFF team are currently preparing for the 2019 festival.

The deadline for YAFF 2019 is 1 April 2019 by 22h00.  Submission will open online for entries from 1 February 2019.

The YAFF 2019 submission guidelines will be published here in December 2018.

For questions, contact the YAFF Team at yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org.

For a full list or to read all the 2018 YAFF winners, you can check out the YAFF 2018 Celebration booklets from the Library collection, or read the Library blog. For more photos from the celebration event, check them out on the Library Flickr.

Frequently Asked Questions

Spread the word about the YAFF amongst students and staff at your school and encourage them to participate. Paper your school and/or library or bookstore with the YAFF Flyer and make available the YAFF Guidelines. Please forward this events page to all other teachers you know for more details. Note that the submission deadline is on Monday 1 April 2019 by 22h00.

ONE (1) original story per student written between 1 September 2018 and 30 March 2019.

All stories must:

  • Have a clear beginning, middle, and end;
  • Respect the following word limit, longer pieces will not be accepted:
    • 750 words for grades K-5 / GS-CM2
    • 1000 words for grades 6-12 / collége-lycée
  • Be typed, using Times New Roman or Arial fonts, 12 point, double-spaced, with one-inch (2.5 cm) margins. No handwritten work, illustrations or color print.
  • Submitted by the deadline of Monday 1 April 2019 by 22h00.

Stories that do not meet these criteria will not be entered into the Festival. The YAFF Submissions team will check stories before they are entered into the Festival. If a story does not meet the guidelines, the author may be given an opportunity to make any necessary changes but only if there is ample time before the deadline. If there is no time to make changes the story will not be entered into the Festival.

For a PDF version of the guidelines please follow this link: YAFF 2018 Guidelines

The Young Authors Fiction Festival is absolutely free of charge to enter.

All qualifying entries must be submitted by Monday 1 April by 22h00. Entries received after this time will not be entered into the festival.

All stories must be within the word count requirements. If you submit a story that contains more that the allowed word limit,  if there is time we will send it back for further editing so that it falls within the guidelines (maximum of 750 words for students in GS/Kindergarden-CM2/5th Grade and maximum of 1,000 words for students in 6éme/6th Grade-Terminale/12th Grade.) If there is no time before the deadline stories over the word limit will not be entered into the festival.

No, only the body text count towards the word count.

Each submission to YAFF must be original: the participant must come up with the content and write the story on their own. Parents and teachers are encouraged to help only insofar as they create “teachable moments”, e.g., guiding young writers through revisions by asking questions instead of giving answers. For example, asking “can you express this idea in fewer words?” to help a child write more concisely or “we can look that word up in the dictionary” for spelling help.  Fan fiction or using another author’s characters, is not deemed as original work. We require that all students pledge on their honor that their submission is their own original work.

Part of the objective of YAFF is to help young people develop new skills and a deeper understanding of the English language. We like to avoid, if at all possible, that parents or teachers correct the “mistakes” for the students. But neither do we want teachers/parents to have so light a touch that a potentially good story submission doesn’t make the grade due to issues that might easily have been improved upon, while teaching new skills at the same time.

We suggest that parents have young children write out their story, then type it up for them including any spelling or grammar mistakes. That way the story that is submitted is indeed the original work of the child.

Absolutely! Please make sure to submit each student’s story as a separate entry. For each student please complete the online submission form with the student’s and their parents’ contact information. Teacher’s cannot give permission for their students’ photos to be taken or their stories to be published only parents have the authority to do this. Please keep this in mind when completing the submission form. If a teacher completes the form for a student we will contact the parent to ask for their permission so it is important we have their contact details.

When you complete the online submission form to enter the contest both the French and American Grades are listed and you chose the correct grade for the participant. The age of the participant is also asked for on the form just to ensure entry to the correct grade.  If your child does not follow a French or American system, we encourage you to find the French/American grade equivalent so we can ensure their submission is entered into the appropriate category. If you need help with this please don’t hesitate to contact yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org

The YAFF team will send an e-mail within a few days after submitting your story, letting you know if the story meets the YAFF guidelines. (If it doesn’t, then we’ll offer some suggestions to help you modify it). If you don’t receive an e-mail within one week, please contact the YAFF team at yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org.

Not at all. All stories are judged independently of entry information except for the title of the story and the age / grade of the author.

Why we ask for consent:

At the Celebration Event photos are taken of the winners to be used on the Library website announcing the Festival winners. If you do not give permission for your children’s photo to be taken we will ensure their photo is not taken at the event with the other winners.  The winning stories are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet which is added to the Library collection and is available for purchase at the Celebration Event. The Library also publishes some of the winning stories on the Library website. If you do not give permission for your child’s story to be published, then if they come in 1st -5th place then their story will not be included in the Celebration Booklet or published online. Please keep this in mind when giving or withholding your permission for your child’s photo and story.

The goal of YAFF is to encourage and support children and young adults to complete a creative written project. The winning stories from 1st -5th from each grade are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet by the Library. The Celebration Booklet is added to the Library collection and is available to purchase at the Celebration Event. All participants of YAFF are invited to attend the Celebration Event normally scheduled in mid-June, where we honor all the writers and announce the winners of the YAFF.

The culminating YAFF Celebration Event at the American Library in Paris is usually held mid-June after the judging process is complete and all participants have been notified whether they are finalists or not.  Details about the 2019 YAFF Celebration Event will be announced in March 2019.  At the YAFF Celebration Event we honor all participating authors and burgeoning storytellers as well as announce the finalists. Finalists will be notified prior to the event, but all young authors are encouraged to attend this celebration of writing for youth and children.

YAFF is free of charge to enter. To keep the Festival free the Library relies on a large amount of volunteers to help run YAFF. In 2017 we had 65 volunteer judges to read the 500+ submitted stories. We are extremely grateful to them for dedicating their free time to YAFF. The YAFF submission team is also made up of volunteers with a Library staff member coordinating the festival.

If you are interested in supporting YAFF and would like to volunteer your time as a judge please contact yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org with your details, any experience you have with children and/or writing and why you would like to judge.

Support is also required in other ways so if you are unable to judge, but would still like to contribute your time and talents please get in touch.

We always need more judges and other help and to support YAFF.

Companies or individuals can also sponsor YAFF via monetary donation. Please contact yaff@americanlibraryinparis.org for details.